By Crystal McGough
People from all over the metro Birmingham area came out to Pinson’s third annual Beat the Heat at Turkey Creek and Float Your Boat competition at the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve Saturday.
“This was a much better turnout than we ever could have imagined,” TCNP manager Charles Yeager said. “It was so great to have so many families out here enjoying this.”
This year was Yeager’s first Beat the Heat as manager of the preserve. He replaced former manager, Taylor Steele, when he left to accept a job offer last year.
One major change this year was that the Float Your Boat race was held in a series of heat-style tournaments, with winning boats from each tournament passing on to a final championship race. In previous years, Float Your Boat was one race with a much longer course
“I think it was really exciting to have everybody having a second chance of winning the race by doing it in heats and having the tournament-style races,” Yeager said. “It seems like people enjoyed it. A lot more people stuck around, I think, because of it.”
Steven Baird, the founder of Float Your Boat, described this year’s race as “superior.”
“I think the outpour of community support and sponsorship was tremendous compared to the first two years that we had this event,” he said. “It went very well. I did like the heats and the tournament system.”
Boats were sold for $5 per boat, $25 per 6 boats and $50 per 12 boats. Three hundred boats were purchased. Each race consisted of 50 boats, with 10 boats from each race advancing to the championship race. There were six heat races before the championship.
“This Float Your Boat was really to raise money for the educational programs for Turkey Creek,” Baird said. “It was to sponsor and raise money for our children, not just the community kids, but kids all around that visit Turkey Creek.”
Baird is a Pinson resident, whose family has lived in the Pinson area since 1816. He has volunteered at the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve since 2006.
“I will always be here,” he said.
In addition to the main races, there was a Kid’s Fun Run race added this year. Twelve kid’s boats were purchased for $1 per boat.
“Next year, we are thinking about having a kid’s race that they make their own boat out of biodegradable materials,” Baird said. “We will have specs and they will be able to go online, Facebook, or come to the preserve and get the specs, and they will be able to build their own biodegradable boat and launch it theirself. They will actually be able to see their own boat floating down, instead of something that somebody else has built for them.”
The winners of the Kid’s Race were as follows: Nathan Lessley won first place and a camping lamp; Nathan Whitsitt won second place and a Nalgene water bottle; and Ashton Muglack won third place, also receiving a Nalgene water bottle.
The winners of the Championship Race were as follows: Arnie Rutkis won fist place, a $50 gift card from Ace Hardware and a Patagonia duffel bag; Salitha Jordan won second place, a $30 gift card for Sam’s Club and an Eno camping hammock; and Lynn Whitsitt won third place and a headlamp.
All prizes other than the gift cards were donated by Trussville’s Alabama Outdoors. T-shirts, hats and other prizes donated by Hometown Bank were given as consolation prizes to everyone who had a boat in the championship race.